It’s now easier than ever to launch an online store with brilliant store builder platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Weebly. No more worries if you are not tech-savvy, you can build your own one with only some drag and drop steps within 5 minutes! Nevertheless, as a brand new store owner, the first and foremost struggle is going to be how to bring customers to your online store.
You’ve finally done all the things you can do to launch your product to the world, but it doesn’t matter how much time and effort did you put into your store if your product can’t reach the group of potential customers.
The good news is…
To make the battle easier to win, below are 47 easy, yet effective, ways to drive traffic to your store when you have a really tight budget. You won’t know what works for you till you try it. So let’s start getting you some traffic.
“With almost 93 percent of consumers turning to social media to help make buying decisions; and 90 percent of them saying they trust product recommendations from their peers and colleagues, avoiding social media simply isn’t an option if you want to compete online”, says Anupam on Acelerar Blog
1. Look up your friends
For online sellers, friends are the most potential customers. Besides, they have already known you and trust you, it’s easier to sell to them than others. Online sellers’ closest people in life are on Facebook. If you have or haven’t thought about it yet, definitely look to see if any of your friends are in the market. You can do it by updating a status, posting new pictures… or just simply message them.
2. Look for Fan Pages
There’re fan pages for just about anything you can think of. People that like those pages in your market are great people to talk to, they’re your potential customers as well. Let’s ask the page admins to see if they can introduce your product on their pages. Online sellers who have leveraged this way have found it cheaper than Facebook ads, even when they pay for the Fan Page owner. Just click the “Message” button on one potential fan page and create a new chance to sell your product.
3. Run Targeted Facebook Ads
No matter what you are doing to promote your store, advertising on Facebook should never be neglected. If you think you really know your audience demographics, then running a small set of Facebook ads to a landing page, can be a great way to gather interest. If you don’t know how, then take a look at this “How to advertise your online sales on Facebook Ads”
4. Try the new Graph Search
It’s worth searching for things related to your market to see if anything else turns up, especially now that you can message people you aren’t friends with. In particular, Facebook has a great geographic filtering ability you won’t find on Twitter or elsewhere.
5. Ask your followers
If you have any kind of follower base, you should definitely tweet about your products. If you don’t have a big follower base, ask your friends to Retweet you and share some thoughts about your product. Word-of-mouth is a powerful way when it comes to sales and conversion. As you develop your idea, you may want to tweet different requests, which may be seen by different people since no one sees every tweet of their followers.
6. Ask your followers for referrals
It’s not just about who you know. The bigger benefit is who your network knows so be sure to not just ask people you follow or follow you. You can ask for your followers’ referrals about your products or services. Maybe some of their followers will be your potential customers.
7. Ask Twitter Accounts to tweet on your behalf
Just like you can ask Fan Page Admins on Facebook to talk about you, you can reach out to Twitter accounts in your target market to see if they’ll tweet something for you or Retweet you.
8. Search for relevant Hashtags
Hashtags are a big part of Twitter for many markets. Finding accounts using the hashtag and reach out to them and join the conversations happening is a great way to get started. You can find relevant hashtags by asking others or checking out sites like Hashtags.org.
9. Join a Twitter Chat
Many groups have regular chats that can be found based on the group’s hashtag they use. This is a great way to ask questions and engage your target audience if they’re holding Twitter chats. More people you reach, more chances for you to get more customers.
10. Email relevant friends/contacts
You can send emails to all your contacts in one big dump advertising your products. What will yield a better result is if you invest the time to be more targeted in who you reach out to. Close friends and family won’t mind, especially those actually related to your target industry.
Google AdWords & other ad networks
11. Make your Google Chat status a call for help/intros
This may seem simple and passive, but you’d be surprised who reads your Google Chat status. Writing a note about what you’re looking for and leave it up for a few days and you might just get a few people to reach out to you. This works for other chat tools as well, of course.
12. Make your signature a call for help/intros
Just like your Google Chat, status is a long tail way to get people’s attention, you can use your email signature the same way. Below your name in your signature is the perfect place to let people know. Don’t forget to update your mobile app’s signature as well as your computer’s.
13. Join & Attend Meetups in your category
Meetup has become an amazing hub of groups about any topic you can think of. Through offline meetups, you can meet your potential customers, it’s also a good chance for you to know more about their buying behaviors, interests, habits to improve product quality. The best thing is, you can introduce your products to those who really care about it.
14. Ask organizers to message the group
Organizers have unique privileges to send messages to their groups. You don’t get what you don’t ask for, so don’t be afraid to reach out to group organizers to talk to them (they may be a great target user) and see if they’ll message the group. They often make no money in running their groups, so you can think of them like the Facebook Fan Page owners previously mentioned.
15. Ask the organizer to allow you to address the audience at a Meetup
Potentially even better than getting into everyone’s cluttered inbox is the opportunity to address the whole group at one of their events. This allows your potential customers immediately approach you.
16. Mention in your Meetup profile what you’re looking for
Like the Google Chat status, this is a passive move that lets you spread the news to strangers, you’d be surprised how often people read the profiles of other new members in a group. Be sure to include your desired contact method if you want Meetup members to reach out to you.
17. Message customers on Meetup.com
Not every member of a Meetup group attends every event and if there’s no upcoming meetups or it’s a group outside your area, you can still reach customers by sending them individual messages. Meetup has a limit of 12 messages per day, which is still enough to get some quality responses.
18.Create a Meetup group
Just because a group doesn’t exist, does not mean there would not be interest. Countless people have launched successful businesses based on the idea of organizing a high value group. Just remember that if you do this, not only will you build trust and relationships with all the attendees, you’ll be the organizer who can send all those messages, decide who addresses the audience, etc.
19. Write a blog post about your product/service
You can write blog posts about your product/ service and share helpful tips with your customers, it’s also a good way to express your product ideas.
For example, if you’re running a dropshipping store specializing in cosmetics, you can write a blog post to introduce a new makeup collection or share some makeup tutorials. If it resonates with customers, they will share, up-vote, tweet, etc. Some will even visit your store as long as you remember to have a call to action to encourage them at the end.
20. Post your blog to discussion sites in appropriate categories
Before posting, make sure you actually post it somewhere it’s welcomed. By posting it to these sites you’ll significantly get some shares and interesting comments from other people.
21. Update your About Page for what you’re looking for
It is always beneficial to list what you’re looking for on your “About page”. The most engaged people on your blog are likely to click to your “About page” to see who you are and what you sell.
22. Make a page on your blog just about your market
It’s important to organize your information in a way that people can easily navigate it. If you’re writing a whole series of items or have already created a lot of related content, this can be a great way to assert your expertise and act as a honeypot to draw in interested potential customers.
Promote your store in real life
23. Look for unhappy people with a service/product
You can always have new customers by looking for unsatisfied ones on your competitors’ online stores. You cannot make all your customers happy, neither can your competitors. The easiest way is to search for customers’ complains, bad reviews…and talk to them, trying your best to turn them into your customers. This can be a real double-edge sword strategy if you do it wrong, because the unhappy customers don’t mind giving a bad review on your store like they did with your competitors.
24.Go to places you know they’ll congregate
Have an idea for people that own boats? Then going to your local marina is a *great* place to find boaters to talk to. Golfers might just be at the golf course or driving range, frequent fliers at an airport and teachers at a school. Timing is obviously everything, so be cognizant of when someone looks like they’re approachable and have time to kill versus trying to hurry somewhere else. 8 Your existing customers base (even if small)
25. Offer Referral Program
You need a great product before you should be trying to aggressively hack your growth, but that shouldn’t stop you from offering an incentive to your existing customers to help you get more visitors. They likely know where to find more of them (their social graph, emailing friends, etc.) so a little incentive will get them to help you out. Checkout Boost app will help you do this tactic easily, which allows you to set free gifts, free shipping or discount to customers if they share their cart on Facebook, Twitter,… It not only encourages them to complete their order to grab your offer, but also helps you reach more new customers on social networks.
26. Ask your customers via email
Especially in the early days, you should regularly talk to your customers and ask them for their experience when using your product/service. As part of those updates for new features, don’t be afraid to ask them for referrals to more visitors or people to talk to.
27. Always ask your customers when you talk
Whether you’re doing a customer development interview or just talking to a customer for referrals… remember you won’t get what you don’t ask for. Ask them both if they know anyone specific who might also be interested in your products, as well as places they find your product.
28. Ask Moderators to post on your behalf or run an ad
Moderators are the most passionate people on a community site. Therefore, much like some of the previously mentioned Fan Pages, etc., they may be open to post on your behalf or running an ad for a very small fee. They’ll know the ins and outs of the site, which will give you a better chance of reaching more audiences.
29. Run AdWords with a landing page
An efficient way (though at times costly) to build an early bird list is to run a quick, targeted AdWords campaign linking to a sign up landing page. There’s also good advice on evaluating the success or failure of such a campaign here. Remember that paying to get a bunch of people on a list doesn’t validate much on its own. It’s then using that list to reach out to customers and talk to them and ask them to pay for something that does.
30. Run ads on lesser known networks
Google may have the largest audience, but not the cheapest or best targeted. Consider your market and think about if other ad networks would work better. There’s everything to consider from Yahoo and Bing or mobile ad networks and blogger ad networks.
31. Have your SEO basics in order
What’s better than the perfect AdWords campaign? Showing up organically for searches on your target keywords. Great SEO takes time, but you can make sure to have the basics right from day 1 so that you can at least get a trickle of interested customers to your blog or site.
32. Ask for mentions in a newsletter
In addition to talking to newsletter owners as potential early adopters, you can also ask them for exposure. Many newsletters have no formal advertising system, so you can just go direct to them to ask for a mention for little even no cost. The more excited they are for what you’re doing, the less likely it will cost you anything.
33. Start your own newsletter
If you don’t find any newsletters in your category, then don’t be afraid to start your own. It will take time to build up audience base, but it’s a great way to put to work all those sign ups you’ve been driving to your landing page. Often times, it’s easier to have people sign up on a newsletter and then later convert them to a paying customer.
34. Watch what they do
As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Chances are your competition has figured out at least a couple of spots where your customers exist and you can enter the conversation there as well. In more modern terms, if something they do works, then consider Job’s favorite quote, “Great artists steal.” Like their Facebook page, and follow the company and key employees on Twitter for some inspiration based on what they link to.
35. Use research tools
Tools like MixRank, which shows the ads a site has been running, and Spyfu, which shows you the expected ad spend and keywords purchased for competition. If you’re looking for inspiration on the kinds of ads to try, those tools will help you get there.
Leveraging the Physical World
36. Post an offer in public places
Bulletin boards still physically exist in many places and people still put up physical signs for all kinds of things. The stereotype are things like meetings and guitar lessons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get attention being creative. If you know there are places your target audience will go to or pass by, consider posting something to get their attentions.
37. Use handouts, fliers or mailers
If hanging something up and hoping people will read it and respond doesn’t work for you, consider a more 1 to 1 communication through handouts you can give out or mail.
38. Buy competitors’ product/ service
So you want to start an online store? Try buying products from your competitors or from other online stores; learning some tricks from them and also avoiding their mistakes to enhance your business. By doing that, you will understand their customers service, shipping policy, return and refund policy… and then have a good operation plan for your own stores.
39. Be sure you’re setup for omnichannel shopping
Today’s consumers want to be able to purchase in-store and online. Businesses who optimize omnichannel retail efforts actually retain 89% of their customers while those who do not only retain about 33% (Source). Luckily, modern eCommerce platforms make it easy for you with state-of-the-art technology. Make sure to use a credit card terminal that connects to your online and offline inventory to automate your processes.”
40. Talk to YouTube Channel Influencers
YouTube is filled with creators making content on all kinds of markets. If you go to Youtube’s channel search, you can search for topic of your niche and see who have channels and how many subscribers they have. Just like you can talk to bloggers as experts in a market, you can learn a lot by interviewing channel influencers.
41. Ask channel influencers for promotion
If your idea resonates with the channel owner, there’s a good chance you can get them to talk about you on one of their episodes or maybe even have you as a guest. They may charge you a fee, but if it’s your exact target audience, it might just be worth it.
42. Start your own channel
If you think video is a great medium to communicate with your audience then creating a channel to connect with them may be a great option. Just like starting your own Meetup group, it can initially be hard, but once you’ve built an audience it will have a great, long-term payoff. Michelle Phan is a great example, as she has her own channel with over 7 million subscribers. She also owns a personal blog in which she discusses different makeup tutorials and receives request for further instruction. Until now, she has successfully built her own cosmetic line called “em” and become one of the most famous YouTube stars.
43. Run ads on YouTube
YouTube leverages Google’s ad powers to run targeted ads. You only pay for the ads people fully watch (not skip) so if video seems a powerful way to communicate with your audience, it’s worth experimenting.
We hope our 40+ tips to bring customers to your online store above have inspired you and point you in the right direction finding those difficult first few customers. There are many, many more ways to find your first customers, so let your creativity run wild.
So, share with us, what are the cleverest ways you’ve heard to make your first sale?
Wanna get more sales tips or share your thoughts with us? Let’s connect at firstname.lastname@example.org.